If you ever watched Space 1999 you’ll know that running a space colony is no walk in the park. But if you ever fancied filling Commander Koenig’s boots and running your own MoonBase Alpha then Space Colony from Aspyr is just the ticket.
Science-fiction history is littered with colonies. These colonies are rarely without drama, a natural by-product of being forced to share living space with strangers. If you want to know what happens when you force people to live at close quarters with no contact with the rest of the world, just watch Big Brother on TV. Now imagine you are Big Brother, and you’ll have a good idea of what this game has in store.
The colonists in this game all work for Blackwater Industries, a caricature Evil Empire™ that’s strip-mining the galaxy and treating its staff as slaves. The colonists must work their way out of their hellish contracts, but working together is a bit of a problem. Each resident has strengths and weaknesses. The only one that is relatively stable is Venus Jones, the hard-working pillar of the colony. The rest are less perfect. Stig Svensson is an ill-mannered Norwegian space-biker. Tami LaBelle is a hard-drinking country music fan with a penchant for small furry critters. Nikolai Volkov is a rocket scientist with all the social skills of a Linux programmer. There are plenty more characters, all with their foibles and usually some kind of essential skill.
Your primary mission is to stay alive, which means making power, oxygen and having provisions. Then you need to earn a living, which may entail mining, farming or scavenging. You manage the relationships, which can be difficult. But you can ease stress with the design of the base. Add a jacuzzi or a dance floor to encourage socializing, and a robot psychologist to help oddballs.
Along the way you will create robots to help run the colony’s more mundane activities, such as cleaning and harvesting. Your mission objective changes with each round, so the extra help is welcome.
Aspyr says that if you like the Sims then you’ll love Space Colony. While I agree up to a point, I think Space colony is better than simply the Sims in Space. The missions have a beginning and end, so you won’t be locked into this game for life (unlike the Sims series). It’s fun, without getting too complex, and it lacks some of the frustrations I associate with the Sims. It’s a less-complex game, but no worse for it. It just lets busy people join in the fun without looking up to find that they have been playing straight for four days without food or sleep.